Articles Posted in Education Law

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After voters in School District rejected a bond proposal to construct an addition to existing high school building, School District entered into a lease-purchase agreement with Bank, which agreed to finance the project. Appellants, residents and taxpayers in the school district, sought declaratory and injunctive relief contending that the agreement violated Neb. Rev. Stat. 79-10,105. The trial court denied relief, concluding (1) under section 79-10,105, lease-purchase agreements may be used to make school improvements without the voters’ approval if the project is not funded by bonded debt; and (2) School District in this case did not fund the project through bonded indebtedness. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellants’ claims were moot because, as of the time of this appeal, the addition had been completed, but the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine applied; and (2) section 79-10,105 does not prohibit a school district from entering into a lease-purchase agreement to finance a capital construction project if it has not created a nonprofit corporation to issue bonds for the school district, and because there was no evidence that this occurred in this case, School District did not violate section 79-10,105 by entering into the lease-purchase agreement with Bank. View "Nebuda v. Dodge County Sch. Dist. 0062" on Justia Law

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The State filed a petition alleging that Samantha C. was a juvenile as defined by Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(b) for being habitually truant from school. Samantha argued that the juvenile court could not adjudicate her under section 43-247(3)(b) because her school had failed to comply with the remedial measures set forth in the compulsory education statutes. The juvenile court rejected Samantha’s argument and entered an order adjudicating Samantha as being habitually truant from school. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the State was not required to first prove Samantha’s school’s compliance with the compulsory education statutes because the Nebraska Juvenile Code and the compulsory education statutes are separate statutory enactments with distinct purposes and goals; and (2) the State met its burden of proving that Samantha was habitually truant from school under section 43-247(3)(b). View "In re Samantha C." on Justia Law

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Freeholders filed successfully filed petitions to move their property from the Prague Public School District to the Wahoo Public School District. East Butler County School District objected to the petitions because East Butler and the Prague District had a petition pending before the State Committee for the Reorganization of School Districts involving a proposed merger plan that encompassed the Freeholders' property. The Supreme Court concluded that East Butler had standing to appeal the Board's decision and remanded. On remand, the district court determined that the Board had jurisdiction over the Freeholders' petitions, thus rejecting East Butler's argument that the Reorganization Committee had exclusive jurisdiction to act in the matter under the "prior jurisdiction rule." The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the prior jurisdiction rule, if adopted, did not apply to this case, and thus the Board had jurisdiction over the freeholder petitions. View "Butler County Sch. Dist. v. Freeholder Petitioners" on Justia Law

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Eric and Gail Thacker sought to homeschool their children but did not obtain state recognition of their homeschool until October 2011. The Thackers did not enroll their five children in any legally recognized school before then. The county court convicted Eric and Gail individually of five misdemeanor counts for violating Nebraska's compulsory education statute. The district court reversed, contending that Neb. Rev. Stat. 79-201 required the Thackers to ensure that their children attended a legally recognized school every day of that school's calendar year until their request to operate a homeschool became effective. The Supreme Court overruled the State's exceptions, holding that section 79-201 did not criminalize the Thackers' failure to enroll their children in a legally recognized school pending the State's recognition of their homeschool. Remanded with instructions for the county court to vacate the convictions and sentences. View "State v. Thacker" on Justia Law

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Without permission and in violation of school policy, a high school student retrieved a wallet and sweatshirt from his pickup truck, which was parked on a public street across from the school. When the student returned to school grounds, the assistant principal searched the student's person, backpack, and wallet, only to discover a cellular telephone and a set of keys. Without the student's consent, the assistant principal then searched the student's truck and found drug paraphernalia. The student was suspended for nineteen days. The school board upheld the suspension. The district court reversed the decision of the board and ordered the suspension and offenses expunged from the student's school record, holding that the search of the truck violated the Fourth Amendment, as the assistant principal lacked probable cause to expand the search to the truck. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the search of the student's truck violated the student's right to be free from unreasonable searches. View "J.P. v. Millard Pub. Schs." on Justia Law

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The East Butler and Prague public school districts filed a petition for dissolution and merger with the Committee for the Reorganization of School Districts. Afterwards, Appellees, property owners, filed freeholder petitions with the Saunders County Freeholder Board to remove property owned by them from the Prague District into the Wahoo District. The Committee then approved the dissolution of merger. Before it became effective, the Board granted Appellees' petitions to move their property. East Butler subsequently appealed, alleging that the Board lacked jurisdiction because the Committee had exclusive jurisdiction over the matter or that the Committee had prior jurisdiction to act. The district court dismissed the appeal, concluding that under Neb. Rev. Stat. 79-458(5) the appeal was untimely and that East Butler lacked standing to challenge the Board's order. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because East Butler had a valid merger petition that involved the same property pending at the time of Appellees' freeholder petitions, it had sufficient interest in the matter to invoke the court's jurisdiction; and (2) the appeal was timely. Remanded. View "Butler County Sch. Dist. v. Freeholder Petitioners" on Justia Law

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Dwight Trumble owned property in Sarpy County and paid two levies for the support of school districts in the Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties (Learning Community). Trumble subsequently brought suit under Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-1735 against the school districts in the Learning Community, claiming the levies were unconstitutional. The district court determined it did not have jurisdiction and dismissed the case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a suit to recover unconstitutional taxes cannot be brought under section 77-1735; (2) Trumble filed suit outside the tax year in which the challenged taxes were levied or assessed, so the district court did not have jurisdiction under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-21,149; and (3) since the district court lacked jurisdiction, it properly dismissed the action. View "Trumble v. Sarpy County Board" on Justia Law

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John Doe filed a lawsuit arising from the termination of his enrollment as a medical student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) against the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska and several faculty members (Defendants). During the pendency of the case, all causes of action except the claim for breach of contract were dismissed. The district court determined that Doe's dismissal was not in violation of a contract between Doe and UNMC regarding the conditions of Doe's continued enrollment. The court then sustained Defendants' motion for summary judgment, dismissing Doe's cause of action for breach of contract and thereby dismissing the case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that UNMC did not breach its contract with Doe when it terminated his enrollment, and although the Court's reasoning differed from that of the district court, the court did not err when it sustained Defendants' motion for summary judgment. View "Doe v. Bd. of Regents" on Justia Law

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In 2010, the Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties established a common levy for the general fund budgets of its eleven member school districts. After Sarpy County levied this tax on real property, three taxpayers brought an action in the district court seeking a declaration that the tax was unconstitutional. The Learning Community, each of its member school districts, and the Sarpy County treasurer were named defendants in the action. The district court declared the Learning Community's common levy was unconstitutional as a property tax for state purposes. The Learning Community and two of its member school districts appealed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-34442(2)(b), which provides that a learning community may establish a levy for general fund budgets of its member school districts, serves a predominantly local purpose, not a state purpose; and (2) because all members of the learning community received benefits from taxes levied and the levy was uniform throughout the community, there was no violation of either the Nebraska Constitution's prohibition of commutation or the uniformity clause. Remanded with directions to dismiss. View "Sarpy County Farm Bureau v. Learning Cmty. of Douglas & Sarpy Counties" on Justia Law